LOS ANGELES—Even before the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter, well before the 1,001st yard of combined offence was tallied, the Kansas City Chiefs and the L.A. Rams already knew this was a classic.
Two powerhouse NFL teams at the peak of their brilliance duelLed deep into the night at an ecstatic Coliseum, racking up eye-popping numbers that stretched the box score and credulity.
There were 14 touchdowns, including three by defensive players. There were 56 first downs. There were 105 points, with 50 from each team—the first time that's ever happened in an NFL game.
In the final moments, the Rams did just enough to leave with a win they'll savour for years.
And if these teams meet again at the Super Bowl in two-and-a-half months, the Chiefs will remember the sting from coming up just short.
Jared Goff threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett for the go-ahead score with 1:49 to play as the Rams outlasted the Chiefs for a 54-51 victory last night in a showdown that somehow surpassed the hype.
“It was a crazy game, crazy game,” said Goff, who passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns and even ran for another score.
"It seemed like whoever had the ball at the end was going to win the game.
“There was times where we felt like we were going to put the knife in and finish them, and there were times where it was the other way around, where we had to claw back into it,” he noted.
Patrick Mahomes passed for a career-high 478 yards with six touchdown passes in his latest jaw-dropping effort for the Chiefs (9-2), but he also threw two interceptions in the final 1:18 as the Rams (10-1) claimed the highest-scoring Monday night game ever played.
The highest-scoring game in the NFL this season was an offensive fantasia of ingenious scheming from mastermind coaches Andy Reid and Sean McVay—along with 21 combined penalties to keep things interesting.
The second half was an extended thriller featuring 59 combined points.
Both teams scratched out fourth-quarter leads, only to see them evaporate.
Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill with a 73-yard TD pass just when the Rams appeared to be pulling away early in the fourth while Goff replied with two late TD passes to Everett, a back-up tight end with 31 career catches before this game.
“It was a whirlwind," McVay said. ”I feel like I might need a couple of beverages to relax tonight, but it was great.
“This is what you love so much about the game.”
And this game ultimately was decided by defence: Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner came up with late interceptions as the Rams stopped Mahomes' final efforts.
“It's always fun to play against real good teams," Mahomes said. ”You get to go out there and have fun. . . .
“[But] it's the same as when we played New England," he noted. ”You can't make mistakes against great teams.
“You need to limit your mistakes but be aggressive.”
The Coliseum's first Monday night game since 1985 was staged on short notice after the NFL moved the matchup from Mexico City to L.A. six days ago due to poor field conditions at Azteca Stadium.
The Rams used the opportunity to give free tickets to thousands of first responders and families recovering from the dual tragedies of nearby wildfires and a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.
“It was just cool,” said Todd Gurley, whose 13-game touchdown streak somehow ended in this offensive showcase.
“It was a last-minute game and everybody [came] out in support,” he noted.
“Had the families here, had the responders, so it was just a great overall crowd and it was good for the city.”
This game has loomed in capital letters on the NFL's regular-season schedule ever since these teams confirmed their status as offensive powerhouses back in September.
The Rams and Chiefs are the league's biggest favourites along with New Orleans and New England—the teams responsible for the only other losses by L.A. and Kansas City this season.
Mahomes had the most prolific passing game in the NFL this year, but he and Goff both made key mistakes.
Rams' linebacker Samson Ebukam returned Mahomes' fumble and a one-armed interception for the first two TDs of his NFL career while Kansas City's Allen Bailey returned Goff's fumble for a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
“It was electric," Ebukam said. ”It's hard to describe because I'm still like in a game mode right now.
“I haven't calmed down yet so it hasn't really all sunk in yet.”